There has been a significant improvement in the condition of the security guard stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist at the entrance to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station in early December, doctors at Shaare Zedek Medical Center said on Monday.
Asher Elmaliach, 46, who sustained serious injuries when he was stabbed in the heart, began breathing on his own on Sunday and is now interacting with his environment, the Ynet news reported.
The report said a friend who had visited Elmaliach said he could recognize friends and family and communicate with them.
“Asher suffered a very serious injury,” said Ofer Merin, director of the trauma ward at Shaare Zedek Hospital. “He sustained serious damage to his lungs and during the first two weeks we connected him to a machine that replaces the actions of the lungs, which is a relatively rare move.”
According to the hospital, he was taken off the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO — which takes strain off the heart and lungs by performing some of their functions, namely removing carbon dioxide from the blood and resupplying it with oxygen — last weekend.
“A week ago he was weaned off the machine, and we were happy to see that his lungs had recovered and he was breathing properly on his own,” the doctor was quoted as saying. “He woke up and began to communicate with us and with those around him.”
Merin was wary of making predictions about Elmaliach’s health, but said he hoped he would continue to improve over the coming days.
Elmaliach’s ex-wife posted on Facebook a “huge thank you to all the people of Israel for their concern and prayers.”
“Prayer pierces the gates of Heaven,” she wrote. “Asher Elmaliach, you are strong. I trust you to leave here healthy.”
The attacker, 24-year-old Yassin Abu al-Qur’a, was charged last week with “a terrorist act of attempted murder” and entering Israel illegally.
According to the charge sheet, on the morning of December 10, al-Qar’a “said goodbye to his loved ones on the phone,” purchased a knife and illegally traveled to Israel in order to carry out a terror attack in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israel of capital a few days earlier.
After hearing the announcement, “the defendant planned to stab as many Jews as possible until he was killed and turned into a martyr,” the indictment read.
Graphic video footage from the scene showed al-Qar’a slowly handing his belongings to Elmaliach, who was checking travelers at the door to the station, before suddenly taking out a knife and plunging it into the guard’s chest.
Abu al-Qar’a then tried to flee the scene, but a police officer and civilians chased him and tackled him to the ground. Police denied media reports that the terrorist had been shot or killed. He was taken into custody for further questioning.
The Shin Bet security service blamed “the incitement on the internet following the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” saying it contributing to al-Qar’a’s decision to carry out the attack.
The night beforehand, he posted on Facebook: “In your path, O homeland, O Jerusalem, O Al Aqsa, our blood is cheap.”
Al-Qar’a, from Wadi al-Fara, outside Nablus, bought the knife in another town in the northern West Bank, hiding it in his coat, and made his way to the city of Hadera, taking advantage of a permit that allowed him to enter the “seam zone” along the border of the West Bank, but not Israel proper.
Concerned about traveling on a public bus without a legitimate permit allowing him to be in Israel, al-Qar’a paid NIS 500 ($140) for a cab ride from Hadera to Jerusalem.
During the ride, he wrote a will on his phone, based on what he’d been taught in Palestinian Authority schools, according to the indictment.
“Brother, oh brother, you are commanded by father and mother, and woe to you, sister, if you worry about me. For the homeland I have sacrificed my blood, everything for you, Palestine,” al-Qar’a wrote.
“In his interrogation by the Shin Bet and the police, the suspect said that he wrote the will before carrying out the attack with the martyrs’ quote found in the textbooks of Palestinian Authority textbooks,” the Shin Bet said.
Once he reached Jerusalem, a little after 2 p.m., al-Qar’a approached the central bus station.
He was stopped at the door by Elmaliach, who asked him to go through a metal detector before entering. The detector went off repeatedly, as al-Qar’a had the knife hidden in his coat.
At that point, the charge sheet said, al-Qar’a determined that Elmaliach, 46, was Jewish and “decided to stab him to death.”